Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Wednesday, 18 February: Discovering my Grandma
This almost-century-old photo of my Grandmother, Ida Mabel Hammond (nee Boucher)(1890-1965) was snapped in 1917 in the former Transkei region of South Africa. The little tyke she is hugging is my Dad, Leslie Alfred Hammond.
Why the sudden posting? Well, Ida is the grandparent I knew the best; yet one about whom I know the least! This is about to change! A year ago I posted a query for information on a South African Ancestry website; this morning I received an email from Ida's grand-nephew, who lives in East London, South Africa. He found my query and mailed to say that he has lots of interesting family history which he is going is share with me.
What do I do know to date? Ida Mabel was born on July 21, 1890 in Queenstown, Eastern Cape. She was one of eleven children born to Priestwood Boucher and Mary Jane Boucher (nee Armstrong). Her parents were married in 1875 according to the rites of the Church of England. After young Ida married my grandfather, George Hubert Hammond, they lived on a trading station in the Transkei and had three sons: George, Leslie and Clarence. When my Grandpa lost his sight as a result of glaucoma, the little family moved to East London. Grandpa was employed as a gardener at a Children's Home, bending over the flowerbeds to smell the flowers which he could not see. Granny worked as a seamstress for a Department Store. Later the elderly couple moved in with their youngest son and family who lived in Pretoria; I was growing up in Cape Town. But I do remember Granny Hammond's infrequesnt visits to our home. She was a forceful old lady who spoke her mind. She taught me to lay a tea tray 'the English way'. She was optimistic, ramrod straight, bold and generous. I remember the gifts of a one rand coin made to my brother and I, although she had very little money of her own. She was always neatly dressed in home-tailored skirts, blouses and hand knits. She struck me as someone who was never a victim but who tackled life's setbacks with vigour. She adored her sons!